RA’s Daily Russia News Blast – March 28, 2008

280308.jpgTODAY: US and Russian press respond differently to missile talks. NATO ambassadors say Russia should not fear the alliance. Abramovich to build Channel Tunnel-style link between Russia and America? Court witness accuses Khodorkovsky of murder. Schools to censor internet access. Mixed reactions in the press today to US-Russia missile defense talks. One newspaper says “US negotiatiors” see the talks as having made progress, and the BBC has picked up this positive tone. The Russian press, however, is portraying a different view, one saying the two sides had “failed to settle differences”, quoting the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister. The widow of Neftyugansk Mayor Vladimir Petukhov, has testified in court that ex-Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky was behind the 1998 murder of her husband, basing her accusation on the fact that she could think of “no one else but Khodorkovsky who could have done it”. The US ambassador to NATO says former Soviet republics will bolster stability in a trouble-prone region and that the alliance shouldn’t be seen by Russia as a “four-letter word”. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer cautioned Vladimir Putin against using “unhelpful,” anti-western rhetoric at next week’s annual summit meeting. The Moscow Times has picked up on US presidential candidate John McCain’s call to exclude Russia from the G8 and accusation against Russia of “nuclear blackmail.”

Roman Abramovich is reportedly planning to buy the world’s largest drill, sparking media speculation “that he intends to make a Channel Tunnel-style link between Russia and America.”The Russian Federal Agency for Education is to equip all schools with a system to block access to Internet resources “incompatible with the tasks of education.”“Reports that the chief of Russia’s General Staff tendered his resignation have rekindled speculation over the extent to which General Yury Baluyevsky opposes reform efforts led by Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.”In an interview for a new biography, Dmitry Medvedev said that his presidency could be challenged, but that his “friendly” relationship with Vladimir Putin would guarantee their productive cooperation. Russia’s Freemasons have become a “modest order”. A former Soviet intelligence officer claims that a high-ranking UN official who worked in the Oil for Food program in Iraq was a Russian spy. A Russian artist who exhibited a controversial show against religion in Moscow in 2003 has disappeared from her new home in Berlin.PHOTO: US President Bush meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Sydney, Australia in this Friday, Sept. 7, 2007, file photo. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)